In the Chinese loan apps case, total seizure now stands at Rs.95 cr
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday has frozen fresh deposits worth Rs.78 crore following raids at the premises of payment gateway company Razorpay and some banks as part of an ongoing money laundering probe against the alleged illegal operations of loan apps controlled by Chinese nationals. The agency had earlier seized deposits worth Rs.17 crore in the case. The searches were conducted at five premises in Bengaluru for the past two days. The money laundering case stems from 18 FIRs filed by the cyber crime police station of Bengaluru police against numerous entities/ persons for their involvement in extortion and harassment of the public who had availed small amounts of loans through the mobile apps being run by them.
“These entities are controlled/ operated by Chinese nationals. The modus operandi of these entities is to use forged documents of Indians and make them dummy directors and generate proceeds of crime. It has come to notice that the said entities were doing their suspected/ illegal business through various merchant IDs/ accounts held with payment gateways and banks,” the ED said.
These entities were generating “proceeds of crime” through various merchant IDs/ accounts held with payment gateways and banks and they have submitted fake addresses in KYC documents. “An amount of Rs.78 crore has been seized in merchant IDs (held in payment gateways) and bank accounts of these Chinese persons-controlled entities. The total seizure in the case now stands at Rs.95 crore,” the ED said.
The agency said fresh searches were carried out at the premises of Razorpay Pvt Ltd and the compliance offices of some of the banks. These payment gateway firms have been in the ED’s crosshairs since 2020, soon after the COVID-19 outbreak started in the country.
The ED initiated a probe under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after a number of instances of gullible debtors ending their lives in various states came to the fore, with the police stating they were being coerced and harassed by these loan app (application) companies by publicizing their personal details available in their phones and using high-handed methods to threaten them. The probe agency said the companies sourced all personal data of the loan-takers at the time of downloading these apps on their phones, even as their interest rates were “usurious“.The ED had said the proceeds of crime, in this case, were routed through these payment gateways.
In another case, the ED has arrested a man from Kolkata for using his crypto account to park illegal funds, in connection with its ongoing money laundering investigation against a Kolkata-based mobile gaming app company that is alleged to have duped many people. Romen Agarwal was arrested under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the case against the app called ‘E-nuggets‘ and its promoter and main accused Amir Khan.
He was sent to ED custody till October 28 by a special court in Kolkata, the Enforcement Directorate said in a statement. “Romen Agarwal is actively involved in inter/ intra country transactions related to the transfer of ill-gotten money within and outside the country received from criminals.
“He acted as a conduit for arrangement of parking, routing and transferring of funds generated from illegal activities,” the ED said in a statement. Agarwal used his crypto exchange accounts for parking funds received from Amir Khan, it said.
The ED had raided the premises of the company and those belonging to Khan and his father Nesar Ahmed Khan in Kolkata last month and had seized Rs.17.32 crore cash from there. In this case, the total amount of seizure, including that of crypto assets, stands at Rs.51.16 crore. The agency has said as many as 300 accounts were used to “launder” the funds of the gamers. Aamir Khan was arrested by the detective department of the Kolkata Police from Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh last month.
The agency found Khan launched the gaming application E-Nuggets, which was designed for the purpose of “defrauding” the public. “After collecting a sizable amount of money from the public, all of a sudden withdrawal from the said app was stopped on one pretext or the other. Thereafter, all data including profile information was wiped off from the said app servers,” the ED said.
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